I would love to say that this new legislation was introduced only by Republicans, but there are Democrats co-sponsoring it, too!
Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Steve Scalise, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced a landmark bipartisan bill today to protect freedom of conscience on the issue of marriage. Their bill – H.R. 3133, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act – would prohibit discrimination through the federal tax code against individuals or institutions that exercise religious conscience regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“Regardless of your ideology, we can all agree about the importance of religious liberty in America,” said Rep. Labrador. “Our bill will protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. As President Obama said, ‘Americans hold a wide range of views’ on marriage and ‘maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom’ is ‘vital.’ We agree.
“Our bill will ensure tolerance for individuals and organizations that affirm traditional marriage, protecting them from adverse federal action. I’m proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing this bill, and will strongly advocate for its passage.”
Most religious institutions fall within the 501(c) portion of the U.S. tax code, which allows for tax exemption. Under the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, no individual or institution which celebrates and defines marriage as between one man and one woman would be denied or lose exemption from taxation provided for under federal law.
Ryan T. Anderson has an article on the Heritage Foundation web site that explains why this bill is needed.
Excerpt: (links removed)
Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a photographer’s right to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony—even though doing so would violate the photographer’s deeply held religious beliefs as a Christian.
Christian adoption and foster care agencies have been forced to stop providing those services because they object to placing children in same-sex households. Other cases include a baker, a florist, a bed-and-breakfast, a t-shirt company, a student counselor, the Salvation Army, andmore.
California’s legislature was poised to pass a bill that would have stripped tax-exempt status from groups such as the Boy Scouts because of policies on sexual orientation. Though it had passed the state Senate, 27–9, the bill was tabled in early September after criticism from surprising quarters—including the liberal Los Angeles Times.
These and other laws are creating a climate of intolerance and even intimidation for citizens who believe that we are created male and female, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage. These state and local laws are used to trump fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.
Given the bad ruling and disparaging tone of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, Congress has an opportunity to protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience at the federal level.
Now, what’s going to happen to this new legislation? Hard to say, because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House. I think that all we can hope for is to have everyone vote on it to see where they stand, so that we know that going into the 2014 mid-term elections.